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Iraq and Kuwait Seek to Solve Contested Border Issue

Iraq and Kuwait will work towards reaching a definitive agreement on demarcating their borders, including a contested maritime area of the Gulf, their foreign ministers said on Sunday.

The de facto land and maritime borders between the neighboring states were established by the United Nations in 1993, three years after Iraq under Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

While Iraqi officials have previously expressed a readiness to recognize Kuwait’s land border, the maritime border remains a point of contention.

Baghdad insists that the delineation should provide it unhindered access to Gulf waters, a lifeline for its economy and oil exports.

Because of the long-standing dispute, Kuwaiti coast guards regularly detain Iraqi fishermen and seize their vessels for entering Kuwaiti territorial waters “illegally.”

After meeting his Kuwaiti counterpart Salem Abdullah al-Jaber al-Sabah in Baghdad on Sunday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said that during their talks “the emphasis was placed on resolving the border issues.”

He told reporters the border talks would “continue through various technical committees.”

Baghdad will host a meeting of a legal committee relating to the talks on August 14.

Map of Kuwait

Sabah said there was “complete consensus” between Kuwait and Iraq to “resolve outstanding problems between the two countries, particularly the demarcation of maritime boundaries.”

Iraq’s government under Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani, who was appointed by pro-Iran parties, is seeking closer ties with Arab Gulf monarchies, aiming to strengthen regional economic cooperation and counter the flow of narcotics.

On Sunday, Sabah also met Sudani and the speaker of Iraq’s parliament, Mohammed al-Halbusi.

Kuwait’s official KUNA news agency said Sabah and Halbusi discussed demarcating the two countries’ maritime border.

In 2021, Baghdad made the final payment of war reparations totaling more than $52 billion to its neighbor.

Saddam’s forces entered oil-rich Kuwait in August 1990 and annexed it before being driven out seven months later by an international coalition led by the United States.

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